1cuppitted dates, chopped and packed *see Note 1 below
1/2cupsalted butter, at room temperature
1cuplight brown sugar, packed
1 1/2cupsall-purpose flour, spooned and levelled
1/2teaspoonnutmeg, *see Note 2 below
1/2cuplight brown sugar, packed
3Tablespoonsheavy whipping cream, 35% b.f.
1/2cupsweetened shredded coconut, packed
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At least 1 hour ahead: Add the boiling water and baking soda to a small bowl . Add the chopped dates and stir to combine. Let stand 1 hour before starting the cake.
Preheat to 350°F (not fan assisted) with rack in centre of oven.
Grease a 9-inch square (or 10-inch round) metal cake pan. Set aside. *If you want, you can line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, for easy removal, but don't allow any parchment paper to extend beyond the top of the cake, as you will be broiling the top later and it could catch on fire!
In a large bowl with an electric beater or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup brown sugar until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. Take a moment to scrape down the bowl, then beat in the vanilla.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with date mixture (with any liquid with the dates), making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of date mixture.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake in preheated oven until firm to a light touch and a tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and switch oven broiler on. (If your broiler has both a Hi and Lo setting, go with the Lo setting to better control the heat.)
Start the topping when the cake is almost done. Combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, cream and coconut in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 1 minute. Spread topping mixture evenly over hot cake.
Broil cake from the centre rack in the oven until bubbling and golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. **Don't wander off! Watch closely as topping can burn quickly. As it is quite bubbly under the broiler, it can be hard to see how browned the topping is getting. It is certainly fine to take it out, let it settle a bit to gauge the colour, then pop it back in for a bit longer, if needed.
Remove from oven and let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack until cooled completely.
Note 1: I like to use Medjool dates, but remember to pit them! They are a little pricey though, so you can certainly opt for honey dates or you can also use the block of pitted cooking dates from the baking aisle, if you like. For Medjool dates, you will only need about 10 dates and you can buy the small amount at somewhere like Bulk Barn.Note 2: If your nutmeg is super fresh or you are grinding it yourself, you may want to reduce the nutmeg amount slightly, unless you are a nutmeg flavour lover. I discovered this recently when I got a new jar of nutmeg, after using the old jar for quite some time. The flavour was definitely more full with the fresh nutmeg.This cake keeps well at room temperature for several days or you can freeze to enjoy later.Be sure to read the notes above this Recipe Card, where I share some valuable tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe! You'll also find step-by-step photos and a video, that you might find helpful.